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My Neighbor

By By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

My neighbor down the street knows so much more than I do. Sometimes he amazes me.

religious neighborsImage by dustball via Flickr
He knows that miracles used to be a lot more common in biblical times, although they still happen a lot. He knows that there is an afterlife. He knows that, one way or another, all prayers are answered. He knows that evil demons are afoot in this world. He knows that homosexuality is an abomination. He knows that coveting is a very serious sin. And he knows that the world will end soon – very likely in his lifetime. I don’t know any of these things.

How does he know all this, and much more that I haven’t told you about? Well, it’s in the book, and the book assures him that everything in the book is true (“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” - Isaiah 40:8). And for my lifetime of study in science and history and philosophy, all I get is a head full of doubts.

Sometimes I wish I could be more like him, so certain. However, due to some unidentified defect of intelligence, I’ve just never been able to get it through my numb skull that those guys who wrote about dragons, 900 year-old men, talking snakes, and magical fruit trees could recognize the truth when they saw it or heard it. Apparently my education is incomplete.

Now I have no problem with my neighbor believing what he wants from that book, until he uses it to influence those voters who make the laws I must live by. Then, despite the fact that he knows so much more than me, I feel compelled to stand up and question the source of his knowledge.

My neighbor knows the book is the last word on everything, and he thinks we should all just consider it settled. Now, I’m probably wrong, but I can’t help suspecting that all we have learned over the past two thousand years about how the world works also ought to be taken into consideration. In fact, it might even be, just maybe, sometimes, on some issues, at least almost as important as the book.

At the end of the day, despite my jealousy for (coveting?) my neighbor’s vast knowledge, there is this odd observation that tempts me to be more accepting of my ignorance; for all of my neighbor’s knowledge, he seems to have been no more fortunate or happy in his life than I. Puzzling, eh? Maybe ignorance really is bliss, just maybe, sometimes, on some issues?